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Meatless meat: Start-up says it’s what’s for dinner

Power Pitch

As shoppers head down the grocery aisle – they may notice a new brand of meat on the shelves. But unlike Boar’s Head or Perdue, this meat doesn’t come from animals—it comes from processed plants.

CEO Ethan Brown says he believes Beyond Meat’s products taste and feel so much like the real thing they will end up on the dinner table of vegans and meat lovers alike.

“We think meat is great—we just think that meat made from plants is the right way to go.”

CNBC gave the entrepreneur 60 seconds to Power Pitch his meatless meat to Bravo TV’s “Top Chef Masters” host Curtis Stone, CNBC reporter Sheila Dharmarajan and CNBC host Mandy Drury. Will they bite or is it more than they can chew? Click the video above to find out!
The meat of the matter

Brown is vegan, and doesn’t consume any animal products in his diet. However, according to the company’s research, there is a growing trend of people who eat meat but want to find alternatives at least once or twice a week.

“Seventy-million Americas today are actively reducing their meat consumptions,” Brown said. “It’s [those] folks that we’re after.”

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, total U.S. beef consumption has fallen every year between 2007 and 2012.

The company sells plant-based products that imitate the flavor and texture of chicken and beef but have no saturated fat, transfat or cholesterol. Beyond Meat’s research and development team created technology that realigns the proteins in plants so they mimic the fiber structure of meat.

Related: Cracking the mystery behind the chickenless egg

“Meat is essentially composed of proteins, lipids and water, all of which are available in the plant kingdom,” Brown told CNBC.

It’s all in good taste

The panelists tasted the product before the interview. While Mandy Drury and Sheila Dharmarajan liked the taste, celebrity chef Curtis Stone was not impressed and felt there were better-tasting products already in the market.

Stone also voiced concerns about some of the ingredients, which include pea isolate, titanium dioxide, soy protein isolate and maltodextrin.

Brown countered that all the ingredients are natural.

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“Just because it’s a long word doesn’t mean it’s not healthy,” Brown responded. “I’m waiting for the day when someone tells me they’re not going to drink water anymore because there’s too much hydrogen in it.”

Reaching consumers

Beyond Meat’s 11-ounce beef-free and 9-ounce chicken-free products retail for $5.49 per package. Last year, the company was in 300 grocery stores, including Whole Foods (WFM), Sprouts (SFM), and Publix (PUSH).  Brown said they will be in more than 4,000 stores this year and will add Target (TGT) and Safeway (SWY) to its distributors.  The CEO said they are in talks with providers in China as well. 

The company would not disclose exact funds raised or revenue but has investments from Bill Gates, Twitter founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, Morgan Creek Capital, Closed Loop Capital, Seth Goldman and the Human Society of the United States.

See Ethan Brown power pitch his start-up Beyond Meat to panelists celebrity chef Curtis Stone, CNBC reporter Sheila Dharmarajan, and CNBC host Mandy Drury.

-Additional Reporting by Joanna Weinstein and Kelly Lin

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